The supremely talented and passionate Nina Kotova returns this month with a collection of musical offerings entitled Tchaikovsky. With the help of legendary Russian maestro Vladimir Fedoseyev leading Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, Nina Kotova has once again given new life to a historical creative’s body of work; the project is outstanding.
To experience classical music in this way is to feel as if the orchestra, every musician, is right there in front of you – the soul and passion with which these compositions are performed is forever flawless and incredibly moving as it reaches out to you. The collection begins in a gentle and meandering manner, the instrumental story telling is ignited immediately, flowing smoothly and gently at first, passing through the various surrounding moments, and soon enough the emotion of Pezzo capriccioso, Op. 62 explodes and amazes.
The skill and precision of the playing on this record is magnificent, the speed alone is incredibly impressive, but speed is nothing without substance – with every note you can hear the urgency and the depth and the feeling that comes through in these performances. As you progress through the various compositions, the overall soundscapes show themselves to be vast and varied and loaded with a number of different emotions and backstories. The creator’s connection with Tchaikovsky and his work, his mind, his creativity, is unquestionable. Every pause, every change, every thought is portrayed with a precise understanding of what was originally intended, and that’s not something any average musician could take on.
Despite the soul and depth of much of the music on this release, there’s also a notable level of joyfulness throughout Variations on a Rococo Theme that is a sheer pleasure to experience. Variation I: Tempo della Thema, a short and sweet burst of energy and hope – under a minute long but far from simplistic in detail. The mood continues throughout this section of the project, Variation II:Tempo della Thema presenting an impressive back and forth between musicians, encapsulating joy initially and then dramatically redirecting to the darkness, the melancholy; the reflective, quiet finish. Variation III: Andante sostenuto takes this sadness, this calm, and wanders with it along a softly provocative hallway. There are certain snippets of hope again that persist in attempting to change the mood – the way in which this is captured during the performances is incredibly impressive, and this is something that will grab you again and again throughout the collection.
Variation VI: Andante is a personal highlight from this release. The contrast between instruments is incredibly powerful, the drawn out ocean of ambiance reconsidered and given further character by the surrounding snippets of energy and repetition. The journey comes through as deeply melancholic, the pit of human sadness even, given additional weight by the consistency of those low notes from the cello. There’s also a distinct amount of space within this piece, and elsewhere on the release in fact – this too creates that void within which the music really reaches into your soul. At no point do the recordings feel like anything less than originals, the creative detail and story of course is not, but the passion and power of the sound has a sincere feeling of now, of new relevance, and that makes it connect on a profound level.
Fortunately the sadness is short lived, the pace and fire of the follow up – Variation VII e Coda: Allegro vivo – reignites that lust for life and surrounds and soaks you in uplifting detail and energy. The final section of the release, Serenade for Strings, Op. 48, also offers up a definite change in emotional direction. The length of these recordings alone means that the journey from start to finish is overwhelmingly intricate, and yet there’s an absolute dreamlike smoothness to Pezzo in forma di sonatina: Andante non troppo—Allegro moderato – at over ten minutes long, this will lift you up and away from your sense of self almost entirely.
These final few compositions encapsulate quite hypnotically the concept of a serenade. The togetherness of the overall sound is clear and unwavering, the music feels much bigger now – not following the single tale of a character or moment, but expressing the united presence of every single instrument and every performer involved. The brightness and romance of it all is a dream to witness, though there’s a definite touch of struggle as the somewhat epic and magnetic Élégie: Larghetto elegiaco plays out. The final note has a hint of hope to it, and this leads beautifully into the final piece of the project – Finale (Tema russo): Andante—Allegro con spirito.
The last few moments of music and performance are indeed drenched in the passion and spirit of every single musician involved. It’s a huge way to finish, and to listen loud, to this entire release in fact, is to get as close to the live experience as possible – a worthy runner up for those of us who are as yet unable to witness Nina or the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra in real time. An unmissable collection of performances from a phenomenal group of musicians.